When it comes to sending items through the mail, there is often reference made to prohibited and restricted goods – while it might sound like the same thing, there is actually a difference - prohibited items must never be sent in the post, while restricted items may be sent in the post, but restrictions will apply, sometimes regarding the packaging, volume, quantity, labelling or the product itself. We at ipostparcels want to explain this further, to help you achieve parcel delivery success! 

Restricted goods

It's important to be aware of potential restrictions when shipping goods, both within the UK and internationally. There is a surprisingly long list of items that should not be sent in the mail, which also extends to items that may only be sent under certain conditions. These are deemed to be 'restricted'. 

What exactly does restricted mean?

In a shipping sense, restricted can mean one of two things. It could be that an item is allowed, but only within a certain quantity.

Or it may mean that a certain item can be sent by post, but only if it meets certain criteria. For example in the case of batteries, they are restricted by type (car batteries are prohibited); the amount and must fall under a certain level of quality control. This means that damaged or defective batteries are forbidden and there are other rules that must be followed - for example lithium ion batteries may only sent with - but not connected to - an electronic device.

Restrictions like these on UK courier deliveries are generally in place for safety reasons; to prevent fire, damage to packages or to prevent risks to health and hygiene. In addition to those set out by the industry, they may also vary between courier companies – so it’s important that you check them before booking your delivery. Fortunately, ipostparcels offer a list of restricted items that may be carried, but only on a no compensation basis, meaning shipping is at the risk of the sender.

What about international restricted goods?

A restriction can also mean that an item may only be sent if licence or permission has been gained from the relevant authority, but this usually refers to shipping overseas.

Rules and procedures will vary from country to country so it's vitally important to check the restrictions for the country you are shipping to ahead of time, to factor in application for any licences that may be required. This information can usually be obtained from the customs authority of the intended country, and we give any information we have about restrictions on our country-specific pages within our International shipping pages.

Sending a restricted item without a licence will result in the package being seized by customs.

The reason why goods may carry restrictions overseas is usually down to import regulations on the particular country, which may also be down to its religious status. For example, some countries with a strong Muslim faith have very strict rules on which texts are allowed to enter the country. In other cases it exists for economic reasons; to protect trade. It can also be for environmental or safety reason; which is why many countries carry restrictions on things like seeds and dried fruit - to protect the native ecosystem from alien pests or disease.

When sending goods in the mail it's important to be aware of existing restrictions to make sure that your parcel reaches its destination safely without delay.

Prohibited items  

It is against the policy of ipostparcels to carry perishable items, liquids (including alcoholic beverages), paint and inks (excluding printer cartridges) plants, prescription drugs and medicines, among other goods.

For more information about prohibited items, see our international and UK pages.

Breakable, valuable and dangerous goods

The ipostparcels service is not suitable for the carriage of breakable or valuable goods, and we do not carry dangerous or restricted goods. If your parcel contains anything that could fall into these categories, any cover provided by us (either standard or extended contents cover) may be invalidated, and if your parcel causes damage to the parcels of other senders, we may recover the costs of repairing such damage from you.

For more information about sending breakable, valuable and dangerous items in the post, see our international and UK pages.

Related content:

How to complete an international invoice

How to complete a commercial invoice

Understanding taxes and duties for international delivery

How to package parcels for international delivery

UK parcel sizing and pricing


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